It superseded previous, smaller, railroad depots around Louisville at the time. Completed in 1889 at a cost of over $310,000, it was once the largest railroad station in the southern U.S., covering 40 acres.
Designed by F. W. Mobray, in the Richardsonian Romanesque-style, with brick-faced limestone ashlar quarried in Bowling Green, KY, and Bedford stone trim from Indiana. The roof, trussed with a combination of heavy wood and iron, is covered with slate. Architectural features include a clock tower, smaller towers, turrets, a facade of considerable size, and barreled vaulting.
The interior featured an atrium, dining, and spacious ladies’ retiring rooms on the first floor. A wrought iron balcony overlooks the atrium. Soft lighting comes from rose-colored windows on both sides of the atrium. The walls are made of marble from Georgia, as well as oak and southern pine. Ceramic tiles covers the floor.
A fire in 1905 occurred in the facility, and the original rose-colored windows were replaced with an 84-panel stained glass skylight that became a feature of the barrel-vaulting tower.
At the height of rail travel in the 1920s, the station served 58 trains a day, with the popularity of rail travel diminishing by the mid-1960s.
Amtrak used the facility from 1971 until 1976, when it began running the Floridian in conjunction with the Auto-Train from a suburban station. From 2001 to 2003, a track on the west side of the parking lot served Amtrak’s Kentucky Cardinal to Chicago.
The first floor is open to the public from 8 am – 5 pm, Monday – Friday.